The Arlington Career Center had some long-distance visitors last week when a group of French high school students came to town to learn about the vocational school’s innovative banking program.
Twenty-two students from the town of Sartrouville, a suburb of Paris, listened while the Career Center’s principal, one of its teachers and two of its students talked about how the program works.
The students’ hometown school, Lycee Evariste Galois, also has a banking program and the students were brought to the Career Center to compare and contrast.
The Career Center’s banking program has given students hands-on experience in the field of money management by creating a student-run branch of the local Arlington Virginia Federal Credit Union.
The students run the fully-operational branch themselves and many obtain jobs in the banking field after they graduate from high school.
"We benefit from being in Arlington and we wanted to give back to the community," the Credit Union’s Patty Browne said. "What better way than investing in teaching financial skills?"
The French students were treated to a lecture about how the banking program works. The program’s administrator, Lisa Moore, told them about how she became involved in the business of money.
"I was born and raised in Arlington," she said. "I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do [so] I got a job at a bank."
Moore said that she wished she had known about the banking class when she was growing up in the county because it would have given her a head start on her future career.
THE STATE DEPARTMENT arranged for the students’ trip from France to the U.S., where they will spend two weeks in the Washington area and one week in San Francisco.
State Department spokesperson Darlene Kirk said that the trip came about when former Assistant Secretary of State Dina Habib Powel visited Sartrouville and met with the students.
"Whenever [Powel] went on a trip she tried very hard to put into her schedule to meet with people," Kirk said.
She also said that the State Department arranged for the students to go to the Career Center because it wanted to "give them a broad-based experience [and] have them see a variety of things."
Of course, the students also saw the sights in and around Washington.
Dalanda Barry said she was amazed by the U.S. Capitol because "[It] was really huge."
"This city is very beautiful," said her classmate Bouchra Ghammouri.
Coming from a Parisian, that’s a truly high compliment.